According to a recently published trade idea, the Charlotte Hornets could take the next step toward playoff contention by acquiring veteran San Antonio Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge for a package featuring three players and one future draft pick.
As explained by NBA Analysis Network on Tuesday, the Hornets already have a deep backcourt, with third overall pick LaMelo Ball joining Terry Rozier and Devonte' Graham. But while Gordon Hayward gave Charlotte an All-Star-caliber starting small forward after he signed with the team in the 2020 offseason, the publication observed that the Hornets' situation at the power forward and center positions still leaves a lot to be desired.
According to the outlet, the Hornets could substantially upgrade their frontcourt by acquiring Aldridge from the Spurs for backup guard Malik Monk, centers Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller, and their first-round choice in this year's draft. Aside from providing valuable experience to an otherwise youthful team, Aldridge could "balance out the offense" and provide leadership, thus addressing some of the club's most glaring weaknesses.
"This would not be an extremely expensive trade for Charlotte. Even though Aldridge is on an expiring contract, the Hornets would be sending filler players to make the financial aspect work while compensating with a first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft."
As shown on his Basketball-Reference page, Aldridge's numbers have further declined in what is now his 15th season in the league. In 14 games so far, he has averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, and two assists per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from three-point range. However, as NBA Analysis Network pointed out, the veteran still represents an upgrade over Zeller and Biyombo in the middle, especially since Zeller is now in the final year of his contract and is not seen as having the skill set to transform the Hornets into a playoff contender.
As for the Spurs, the publication noted that Monk still has a lot of potential despite only seeing limited action in the 2020-21 campaign and could make big strides in his game under the tutelage of longtime San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich. While the two erstwhile Hornets centers might mostly be used for salary-matching purposes, the 2021 first-rounder could turn out to be a key part of the Spurs' ongoing rebuild.
Aside from the Hornets, the Miami Heat are among the multiple teams that have been linked to Aldridge in recent weeks and months. A similar trade idea proposed in December suggested that the Heat could land the 35-year-old for Kelly Olynyk, Chris Silva, and KZ Okpala, as well as a 2025 first-round selection.